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Which Wax Makes The Best Scented Candle?

Updated on October 10, 2010

New Waxes Mean A Wide Range Of Choices When It Comes To Scented Candles

Which Wax Is Best For Scented Candles?

Candles have been used for centuries to provide light and, to a lesser extent, warmth. The wick candle as we know it today was invented by the Romans, although the Egyptians had something similar. The earliest candles were made of wax – or tallow – fashioned from animal fats, particularly goat and sheep fats. Not surprisingly, these earliest candles were somewhat crude, emitting foul odours and unpleasant soot. Thankfully, candle-making has moved on since those times and scented candles are available today in a range of different types of wax, each of which has a number of distinct characteristics.

Beeswax candles, which are often regarded as the connoisseur’s choice, have been around since the Middle Ages and offer a winning combination of a warm, golden colour and natural honey-sweet aroma. Beeswax candles also offer the purest, cleanest flame of the available waxes with the added benefit of purifying the air, acting like a natural air freshener, a particularly significant attribute where indoor air quality is an issue, for example where someone suffers from asthma or is prone to other allergies. However, beeswax candles tend to be more expensive than candles made from other waxes, although devotees would argue that the initial cost is well worth it for such a wholesome, natural product and is more than made up for by the fact that beeswax candles last longer than the alternatives.

Paraffin wax which arrived around 1850 is still the most commonly wax used in candle-making today. It is relatively inexpensive to produce and as a result tends to be the wax of choice for manufacturers of mass-produced candles. However, paraffin wax is, of course, a by-product of petroleum, a non-renewable resource, meaning, unlike beeswax and other waxes made from plant sources, it does not sit well with the modern consumer’s demand for renewable, green products.

These modern eco-friendly waxes include coconut wax, palm wax and, most popular of all – soy wax, derived from the ubiquitous soya bean. Soy wax is made from hydrogenated soya bean oil and was invented in the early 1990’s by Michael Richards who was looking for a less expensive, cleaner, wax to use in his candle-making. Candles made of soy wax can be scented with a wide variety of fragrances and essential oils. When compared to paraffin wax candles, soy wax candles burn cleaner and with much less soot. They also burn longer and more evenly than paraffin wax candles so you can indulge your scented candle habit more regularly with soy candles.

Another natural product, palm wax was also developed in the 1990s around the same time as soy wax. It burns with almost no soot and makes beautiful scented candles with vibrant colours. Like soy wax, palm wax also burns very cleanly and for longer than paraffin, indeed almost as long as beeswax. It is often used in combination with other natural waxes such as soy wax or beeswax.

When you are choosing scented candles there are number of factors which will affect your decision, including budget, the scents or fragrances available and the candle’s design and packaging. In addition to these considerations, as we hope the above will demonstrate, it is also worth paying attention to the type of wax used to make the candle.


A beautiful beeswax candle made by Paddywax
A beautiful beeswax candle made by Paddywax
And now an example of a soy wax candle, also by Paddywax
And now an example of a soy wax candle, also by Paddywax


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    • lyndeonlinestore profile image

      lyndeonlinestore 2 years ago

      though most of the waxes mentioned, have their benefits. but If you tend to get headaches when burning candles. If the candle is a PARAFFIN candle, that candle is spewing hazardous chemicals that are coming from the paraffin wax.

      The EPA list the following ingredients present in paraffin: Trichloroflouromethane Carbon Disulfide 2-Chlorobenzene Styrene Xylene Phenol Cresol Cyclopenthene Benzene* Toulene*

      Clean Burning: One of the most famous benefits of soy candles. is how clean they burn. Soy wax candles don't produce the black soot that paraffin does. While some might say “no soot,” it’s actually “little soot.” Everything that burns puts off smoke, and soy candles are no exception. However, the amount of smoke released from soy wax is so minimum, there are very few that notice it. You won’t get black soot on your walls, ceilings, furniture and carpeting when you burn soy candles! If you have ever had a soy wax candle in the past that did leave black soot around the jar, there are several reasons this may have happened. One explanation is it wasn’t 100% soy, but rather a soy/paraffin blend. Many advertised “soy candles” have unknown blends that you may not catch unless you ask what’s in their candles

    • csnipper123 profile image

      csnipper123 3 years ago from Allentown, Pennsylvania

      Here is a good web page explaining the misinformation of soy and paraffin wax.

      Palm wax production causes issues with the rain forests, and soy wax has to be grown, which hurts farm lands and competes with the food market. Paraffin already exist due to oil production, and like any of these other waxes, only smokes and soots if make with the wrong wick. If paraffin can be used as a food grade product I think its just fine for candles. I have also found that a paraffin and soy mix works best for holding fragrance in my opinion, getting the best of both worlds I guess. It is a shame people bash paraffin in order to boost their soy sales.

    • profile image

      Simone 3 years ago

      Palm wax burns for far longer than soy wax so is more economical.

    • profile image

      Jennifer_L 4 years ago

      I think that soy wax makes for the best longest lasting candle. I hear Parfum Celeste makes a great one for pretty cheap.

    • cousinkim profile image

      cousinkim 5 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      I make Candles soy is the best